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Lessons learned for Project Management Conferences (right to left). Dux, Bas and Cornelius were at the 2010 North America Global Congress, which was hosted by the Project Management Institute. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting video and photographs from the event. It was a great experience and I have gained a lot from it. I want to share my lessons learned with the PMI and other organizations that are hosting conferences of this nature. This should not be taken in a negative light. I enjoyed the congress. However, we can always improve! You know me well, I like to tell it as it is. [update: I received an email this morning from PMI with a link to a survey for feedback. Please complete the survey to help PMI improve future events. Moderation of Large Session Questions After the Vivek Kundra talk, especially, the first few questions (especially the first) needed to be moderated. People who are looking to be a spokesman for their cause can take advantage of these opportunities. I recommend that you set the ground rules for the group in the same way as you would for a business meeting. In order to allow everyone to ask questions, give each person a question. Each audience member will have 30 seconds to answer their question. This will allow the moderator to cut off anyone without appearing rude. These ground rules will make it difficult to choose between looking like a jerk and letting someone else with their own mission take over the session with thousands of people watching and cringing. Clarity of Scope for Area of Focus Session I like to ask complete strangers what their thoughts are about the event so far while I’m waiting in an elevator or grabbing food. Without prompting, I received the same critique from 30-40 people. The same criticism is mine. Too many sessions were attended when the expectations based upon the presentation descriptions were not met. Two things led to this. Either the session wasn’t really focused on what the attendee was thinking going in, or 2) it was not at the level (beginner to intermediate, advanced) that was advertised. This is why it is a problem. Dissatisfaction can result, just like in projects. It’s as if the outcome of the sessions is a random guess. This results in fewer attendees for future sessions, especially for first-timers. PMI should aim to impress them and keep them coming back next year. How do you solve it? How to Solve It? This will be written by the presenter and compared to the materials by a PMI volunteer coordinator to ensure that the description is accurate. The PMI volunteer organizer will assess the difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) and not the presenter. Each presenter should be able to provide a 300-500 word abstract prior to the congress. To help attendees make their decision, presenters must answer questions such as these:

What level of knowledge/experience should I have before I present the presentation? What is the value I can expect to gain from […]

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